F'in Stall!


 

Tommy B

TVWBB Pro
hate to hear the cook didn't turn out well... When I was learning on the WSM I had a night or two with a hungry family! As you are now aware cutting a 8lb shoulder into two pieces does not cut the time needed to cook in half! If an 8 pound butts takes 12 hours on average to cook a 4 lb butt will not take 6. I takes a little less time but not significantly less time.

As you know BBQ takes a lot of time and every piece of meat is different. I have cooked 2 similar sized butts and one took 1.5 hours longer. Each piece of meat breaks down at different times and any time guideline is that... just a guideline not a hard and fast rule.

I always plan on my meat being done 3 hours before I am supposed to serve it. You have a big window of time for it to finish and won't be rushed. When the meat is done I wrap in foil then a towel and stick it in a cooler. It will stay hot and become better with time.... I have held a butt for 4 hours before and it turned out amazing. I always pull as close to meal time as possible.

I hope you give the WSM another chance. If not I know a lot of people would make an offer on your cooker!
 
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JoeMarcum

TVWBB Member

So you might be pointing out the Weber provides the water pan, and using that might increase the humidity in the cooker. Very possible. Then why not try to bbq the Harry Soo way, no water pan, just foil the heat shield. Second, leave one vent wide open and use the top to regulate heat, permitting air flow which will reduce the humidity, per linked article. Also, the article recommends the Texas Crutch .... wrap your meat and keep on cooking.
 
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Tommy B

TVWBB Pro
So you might be pointing out the Weber provides the water pan, and using that might increase the humidity in the cooker. Very possible. Then why not try to bbq the Harry Soo way, no water pan, just foil the heat shield. Second, leave one vent wide open and use the top to regulate heat, permitting air flow which will reduce the humidity, per linked article. Also, the article recommends the Texas Crutch .... wrap your meat and keep on cooking.

There are literally a million ways to cook on the WSM and to each his own I just wanted to share what has worked for me.
I've been running a wsm for a few years and never mess with the top vent. I cook with it 100% open 100% of the time. When I need to make temp adjustments I always mess with the bottom vents. In my mind the top vent is an exit only vent. You want the heat and smoke to be drawn out of that vent like a chimney effect. That's why your big competition style offsets have that tall smoke stack. you want that heat to be pulled across the cooker and out. My thought is you want smoke pulled from the fire, over the meat and out of the cooker. That constant airflow leads to a clean fire and thin blue smoke.
 

YYang

TVWBB Fan
Don't get discouraged and be nice to your WSM. It can hear you cursing it, and smokers have feelings, too :). I've had a couple of times where the sun's gone down and I'm still stuck in the stall. This happened back when I was smoking on a 22.5'' kettle, so your equipment is not to blame. You'll get a feel for how many hours each cut of meat needs. In general, I would set aside around 12 hours for the average sized butt. If it's done sooner, just foil it up, wrap it in towels and stick it in an insulated cooler. It only gets better after a few hours' rest. Please don't give up on your WSM yet. It's frustrating cooks like the one you just had that make it all the sweeter when things go smoothly.

PS Here's a great article on the factors that influence cooking time: http://amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/cooking_time.html
 
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Rusty James

TVWBB Gold Member
I cook with it 100% open 100% of the time. When I need to make temp adjustments I always mess with the bottom vents. In my mind the top vent is an exit only vent. You want the heat and smoke to be drawn out of that vent like a chimney effect. That's why your big competition style offsets have that tall smoke stack. you want that heat to be pulled across the cooker and out. My thought is you want smoke pulled from the fire, over the meat and out of the cooker. That constant airflow leads to a clean fire and thin blue smoke.


I'm far from an expert, but that makes sense to me considering how improper combustion could impart a creosote-flavor to the food by trapping unwanted byproducts. I may operate my kettle grill the same way.
 

JoeMarcum

TVWBB Member
Tommy,

I used my a couple weeks back for the first time. My brisket, first one ever, turned out decent but not great, I can do better for sure. That said, I ran it on a warmish Texas day, about mid 80's and had 2 closed on bottom, third bottoms was 80% closed, and then the top 80% closed. My cook held right at about 235 for about 12 solid hours. Worked really well.

All that said, by keeping the top wide open, would this not have generated too much heat?

Harry Soo has a different take than you, he says to fiddle with the top, not the bottom:

Here is a quote from his website: "Of the three components I mentioned: intake, fuel choice and amount, and the exhaust, the most effective component to maintain constant temperature is not the intake nor the fuel. It’s the exhaust. Many beginners I come across are not aware of that. All seasoned pitmasters know how to intuitively draft their pit using “clean” smoke to color and flavor their barbecue meats. The draft refers to the vacuum effect when you open or close the exhaust vent of your pit.

When you open the exhaust vent on the WSM, you allow hot air to leave the pit and this creates a vacuum suction to draw air in from the bottom intakes. Thus, by skillfully manipulating the top vent, you can control your WSM like a pro. Many beginners constantly fiddle with their intake dampers in hopes to maintain a constant temperature with less success than leaving the bottom vents untouched and fiddling with the top vent to control the draft within their WSM. In future articles, I’ll address the mechanics of damper control on the WSM (e.g., old school versus automated blower systems) and the science on dirty smoke, white smoke, clean smoke, blue smoke, sour smoke, etc. For now, just give my technique a try and see if it works for you. "
 

Rusty James

TVWBB Gold Member
Joe, are you saying we should leave all vents wide open until temps stabilize (and blue smoke appears), and then adjust top & bottom vents accordingly?
 

Robert McGee

TVWBB Gold Member
I am surprised that no one mentioned the possibility of a "high heat cook" when pressed for time. Just a few days ago I had two bone-in Boston Butts in my 18.5" WSM. One on each grate. It was windy and the smoker wanted to stabilize at 300 degrees. I thought, "Why not?". It was a good time to try a higher heat cook. I normally do pulled pork and ribs at 275 degrees. This time it hung at 304 degrees for the longest time.

Normally, with 275 degrees, it takes me 8.0-9.0 hours to hit a temp of 200 degrees or so. I check for tenderness, starting at 195 degrees. Some I have pulled at 195, but most go 200-205 before they are finished. This pair of butts were done at 5.0-6.0 hours. The quality was FIRST RATE! Definitely among the best I have seen. Great bark, lost of moisture and excellent flavor along with the desired tenderness!

I will be smoking most of my butts in the future at 300 degrees. By the way, I use NO water - just a dry water pan (foil for ease of clean up).

FWIW
Keep on smokin',
Dale53:wsm:
 

Eric S.

TVWBB Fan
JoeMarcum said:
Harry Soo has a different take than you, he says to fiddle with the top, not the bottom:

Here is a quote from his website: "Of the three components I mentioned: intake, fuel choice and amount, and the exhaust, the most effective component to maintain constant temperature is not the intake nor the fuel. It’s the exhaust. Many beginners I come across are not aware of that. All seasoned pitmasters know how to intuitively draft their pit using “clean” smoke to color and flavor their barbecue meats. The draft refers to the vacuum effect when you open or close the exhaust vent of your pit.

When you open the exhaust vent on the WSM, you allow hot air to leave the pit and this creates a vacuum suction to draw air in from the bottom intakes. Thus, by skillfully manipulating the top vent, you can control your WSM like a pro. Many beginners constantly fiddle with their intake dampers in hopes to maintain a constant temperature with less success than leaving the bottom vents untouched and fiddling with the top vent to control the draft within their WSM. In future articles, I’ll address the mechanics of damper control on the WSM (e.g., old school versus automated blower systems) and the science on dirty smoke, white smoke, clean smoke, blue smoke, sour smoke, etc. For now, just give my technique a try and see if it works for you. "

See this thread for a frame of reference and clarification on this.

http://tvwbb.com/showthread.php?61786-Harry-Soo-s-advice
 

Tommy B

TVWBB Pro
Tommy,

I used my a couple weeks back for the first time. My brisket, first one ever, turned out decent but not great, I can do better for sure. That said, I ran it on a warmish Texas day, about mid 80's and had 2 closed on bottom, third bottoms was 80% closed, and then the top 80% closed. My cook held right at about 235 for about 12 solid hours. Worked really well.

All that said, by keeping the top wide open, would this not have generated too much heat?

Harry Soo has a different take than you, he says to fiddle with the top, not the bottom:

Here is a quote from his website: "Of the three components I mentioned: intake, fuel choice and amount, and the exhaust, the most effective component to maintain constant temperature is not the intake nor the fuel. It’s the exhaust. Many beginners I come across are not aware of that. All seasoned pitmasters know how to intuitively draft their pit using “clean” smoke to color and flavor their barbecue meats. The draft refers to the vacuum effect when you open or close the exhaust vent of your pit.

When you open the exhaust vent on the WSM, you allow hot air to leave the pit and this creates a vacuum suction to draw air in from the bottom intakes. Thus, by skillfully manipulating the top vent, you can control your WSM like a pro. Many beginners constantly fiddle with their intake dampers in hopes to maintain a constant temperature with less success than leaving the bottom vents untouched and fiddling with the top vent to control the draft within their WSM. In future articles, I’ll address the mechanics of damper control on the WSM (e.g., old school versus automated blower systems) and the science on dirty smoke, white smoke, clean smoke, blue smoke, sour smoke, etc. For now, just give my technique a try and see if it works for you. "

hey Joe-

I know about those warm Texas days... haha
As I said before there are thousands of ways to cook on the WSM and BBQ in general. No real wrong or right its just what works best for your cooker! While Harry is an amazing cook I don't personally subscribe to the method he wrote about. I am not saying he is wrong I am saying I like my method better!

I have used the WSM long enough to maintain a consistent temp using the bottom OR top damper. When I talk about damper control I am not fixed on temp control but burning a clean fire.

The vacuum effect which harry talks about is essential in burning a clean fire. I do not want to shut down the top vent and prohibit air/smoke from leaving/entering the cooker. In theory my goal is to start my fire with the right amount of coals and in a manner in which I could leave my bottom and top dampers 100% open 100% of the time... More air flow equals cleaner fire equals good smoke equals mild Smokey meat. Obviously things happen during the cook that effect your perfect theoretical situation... water pan runs dry, windy day, meat cooks faster/slower and you have to change the game plan and adjust temps etc.

In summary:
There are 1000's of ways to cook on WSM.
I don't adjust top vent to encourage a vacuum effect in order to burn cleaner fire not get right temp.
 

JoeMarcum

TVWBB Member
This is from Harry Soo:

" If you have the top vent completely open and one bottom vent completely open and your pit does not come up in temp, you can open a second bottom vent, followed by a third. "

I think the idea is to come up to temps slowly as its easier to go up than down. So start with only one open on bottom and the top vent open, and then open a 2nd and 3rd vent on bottom if needed, but use the top vent as your primary temp control.

This is the page on Harry's website that provides the complete explanation: http://www.slapyodaddybbq.com/2014/03/fire-control-and-seasoning-a-new-weber-smokey-mountain-pit/
 

JoeMarcum

TVWBB Member
hey Joe-

I know about those warm Texas days... haha
As I said before there are thousands of ways to cook on the WSM and BBQ in general. No real wrong or right its just what works best for your cooker! While Harry is an amazing cook I don't personally subscribe to the method he wrote about. I am not saying he is wrong I am saying I like my method better!

I have used the WSM long enough to maintain a consistent temp using the bottom OR top damper. When I talk about damper control I am not fixed on temp control but burning a clean fire.

The vacuum effect which harry talks about is essential in burning a clean fire. I do not want to shut down the top vent and prohibit air/smoke from leaving/entering the cooker. In theory my goal is to start my fire with the right amount of coals and in a manner in which I could leave my bottom and top dampers 100% open 100% of the time... More air flow equals cleaner fire equals good smoke equals mild Smokey meat. Obviously things happen during the cook that effect your perfect theoretical situation... water pan runs dry, windy day, meat cooks faster/slower and you have to change the game plan and adjust temps etc.

In summary:
There are 1000's of ways to cook on WSM.
I don't adjust top vent to encourage a vacuum effect in order to burn cleaner fire not get right temp.



Gotcha, i think that makes a lot of sense. I am total noob to all this so I am still trying to find my way!
 

Tommy B

TVWBB Pro
Gotcha, i think that makes a lot of sense. I am total noob to all this so I am still trying to find my way!

the only way to learn is try a few methods and see what works best. Harry is an award winning pit master so I def cannot say he is wrong I have just found another method that works better for me. This site has a ton of info and you will see many different methods used.

In regards to your previous post about bringing up pit temp slowly is spot on. It's so much easier to raise the temp then lower the temp!
 

Jerry N.

TVWBB Emerald Member
In regards to your previous post about bringing up pit temp slowly is spot on. It's so much easier to raise the temp then lower the temp!

I think of it a little differently. I bring my temp up fast but I start limiting the air flow early. I run wide open (all vents, top and bottom) until I hit about 200°. Then I shut down two of my bottom vents all the way. When my temp gets close to where I want it to land, which is around 250°, I dial in my third vent and about half closed. That righ there on my WSM will hold around 250° pretty solid for many hours.
 

Tommy B

TVWBB Pro
I think of it a little differently. I bring my temp up fast but I start limiting the air flow early. I run wide open (all vents, top and bottom) until I hit about 200°. Then I shut down two of my bottom vents all the way. When my temp gets close to where I want it to land, which is around 250°, I dial in my third vent and about half closed. That righ there on my WSM will hold around 250° pretty solid for many hours.

I prob should of provided a little more detail in my post. I think the previous post/harry are spot on with bringing pit temp up slow and not overshooting your target. Like you I keep my dampers 100% open and slowly bring pit temp up by lighting a few pieces of charcoal. As the temp gets closer to my target I slowly shut down my vents to get it to stop where I want my temps.
 

 

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